What to buy from warehouse clubs

Before you head to the warehouse club, use this list to zero in on the best deal and know what when stock-up.

Save on electronics

Warehouse clubs offer many great bargains but you can make the most of your membership by purchasing select items.

Prescription drugs: You can save more than 50 percent on common prescriptions at clubs compared with other pharmacies. Be sure to shop around, though, as costs vary between stores within the same chain.

►Bottom line: At Costco, 20-milligram Lisinopril pills (a generic blood-pressure drug) cost less than $10 for 100; the price is more than $56 at CVS. That’s almost an 82 percent savings!

Big-ticket electronics: National discount chains and online retailers offer similar prices as warehouse clubs on televisions. Where you can find significant savings, however, is on the clubs’ generous extended warranties and return policies.

►Bottom line: A Sony Bravia32-inch LCD HD television comes with a two-year warranty and a 90-day return policy at Costco. The same TV at Best Buy costs $70 more and has a one-year warranty, and you have only 30 days to bring it back.

Dairy: Finding coupons for and sales on milk, eggs and butter at your local grocery store is tough, making it hard to beat warehouse-club prices. Be sure to check the expiration date before you load up.

►Bottom line: A family buying 2 gallons of milk per week could save about $90 yearly compared with supermarket prices—more than enough to compensate for the basic membership.

Gasoline: When gas prices fall, clubs frequently offer the lowest prices. A lot of consumers means the club replenishes its supply more often than a corner station.

►Bottom line: You’ll save 2 to 10 cents per gallon—that’s up to $104 per year if you fill up a 20-gallon tank once a week.

Cell phones: On warehouse-club websites, you save a bundle and avoid pushy salespeople and long waits in the store. You also can pick up a carrier plan, upgrades, accessories and data cards for most major wireless companies.

►Bottom line: Costco offers free activation, shipping and accessories—including a case, a car charger and a hands-free option—for online purchases (up to an $85 value).

Alcohol: Because of state laws, many clubs have separate liquor stores or sections, so even nonmembers can take advantage of the savings.

►Bottom line: A 24-pack of Bud Light in cans costs $20 at a Publix supermarket in Atlanta. For the same price, you can get six more cans at an Atlanta Sam’s Club.